Review: Little Big Changes Mark Corolla’s 50th

Everyone expects a special edition version of something with a 50th anniversary, and Toyota Corolla, arguably the most popular car in the world with sales exceeding 43 million units, has released its special edition with 8,000 units planned. On the flip side, what I didn’t expect were the little changes that stuck out big time with my test drive of a couple of its other models. The 2017 Corolla iM and the Corolla XSE – both powered by 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder engines, are making their own mark this year.

2017 Corolla iM Makes you do a Doubletake
With the discontinuance of the Scion, some of its models including the iM hatchback and the FR-S sport, are now joining the Toyota family. This brand transition calls for recycled names, for example the FR-S sport is now the Toyota 86 and the iM is now the Corolla iM. Just know that you are not losing it when you see something familiar on top of something else just as familiar. It’s little, but it’s big.

I have test driven the iM under the Scion badge and the Corolla badge. Little has changed. This hatchback remains an affordable, reliable and fuel efficient ride with lots of bragging points inside and out. The ever safety conscious brand is living up to its reputation with safety features that were optional last year on the iM, but are now standard, including pre-collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control and automatic high beams.

The exterior of this Electric Storm Blue-colored hatchback is accented by 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45R17 tires, rear window wiper, color-keyed heated power folder and exterior mirrors with LED turns signal indicators. The chrome-tipped exhaust and a shark fin antenna gives the design a little edge. The sporty ride was easy to handle at low and high speeds, thanks in part, to the electronic power steering and CVTi-S automatic transmission.

Those accustomed to more higher-end bells and whistles inside will be able to get by just fine as the iM offers the following standard features: 7-inch touch screen display, integrated rear-view backup camera system, remote keyless entry with engine immobilizer, power door locks and windows, dual zone auto climate control system, leather steering wheel with audio control. The cabin remains more than suitable for a lot of people and a lot of stuff, providing cargo space at 20.8 cubic feet with 60/40 split-fold flat rear seats. Whatever the name, you can make the iM work for you.

The 2017 Corolla iM MSRP: $19,490; Combined city/highway MPG: 31.

2017 Corolla XSE Flexes Muscles
If you are looking for elements of a muscle car, then you can find it in the XSE model. The engine is so loud that everyone on the block will know when you are coming and going. Once they see Barcelona Red Metallic color and the updated front grille and headlamps, they’ll understand why you are flexing through the neighborhood with the power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade open.

This new trim level, with 17-inch machined alloy wheels with black-painted accents and P215/45R17 tires, exudes rascal behavior, promising a burning rubber block party— that is, until you call it out.

At one point while on the highway, the speedometer indicated I was going 70 miles per hour, but it felt like 40. When I turned to look at my front seat passenger we were wearing matching frowns. It just felt like we were struggling, and being left behind. Good news. Though I engaged the paddle shifters, I had skipped a beat and not employed them in a timely manner. That made the XSE work unnecessarily harder, undermining this new aggressive image.

A few other updates have been made to the interior, namely steering-wheel mounted controls and color multi-information display, but it was this new front grille element that revved up my inner speed demon. It’s little, but it’s big.

So, I self-corrected my attitude and the gears, helping us to keep up with the Joneses on the highway just enough not to lose face. I remembered that underneath the updated façade were elements of the most popular car in the world. No pressure.

The 2017 Corolla XSE MSRP: $22,680; Combined city/highway MPG: 31.
Learn more at  Toyota .